People who have preferred to use live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), or more popularly known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, might want to think twice about doing so this flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted in June 2016 that LAIV  should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season following the release of  preliminary data  indicating that among study children ages 2 years through 17 years, LAIV was found to be only 3 percent effective against flu viruses. In comparison, flu shots had a 63 percent effectiveness rate in a same age study population. ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination with either inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone ages 6 months and older.

Both CDC and ACIP had preferentially recommended the nasal vaccine for young children during the 2014-2015 flu season.

Vaccine manufacturers had projected that as many as 171-176 million doses of flu vaccine, in all forms, would be available in the United States during the 2016-2017 season. LAIV is currently the only non-injection flu vaccine available on the market. The ACIP’s June vote may have implications for pediatricians and providers who have already placed vaccine orders, since data from recent seasons suggests that nasal spray flu vaccine has accounted for about one-third of all flu vaccines given to children.  The CDC will be working with vaccine manufacturers throughout the summer to assure that there is enough injectable vaccine supply to meet the demand.

CDC regularly conducts vaccine effectiveness studies. This ACIP vote demonstrates the importance of measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of public health interventions and changing public health policy, when necessary, to assure that the population’s  health is optimally protected. Before this ACIP recommendation becomes official CDC policy, it must be reviewed and approved by CDC’s director. The final annual recommendations on the prevention and control of influenza will be published in a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) in late summer or early fall of 2016.